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Poet Laureate Philip Levine Will Speak at Bard College at Simon’s Rock Commencement

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Philip LevineUnited States Poet Laureate Philip Levine will deliver this year’s commencement address at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. Levine is known as an elder statesman of contemporary American poetry and the voice of ordinary people.

The author of 20 collections of poetry, Levine published his first collection, On the Edge in 1963 and went on to win the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award for Ashes: Poems New and Old, and the 1991 National Book Award for What Work Is (1991). In 1995 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for The Simple Truth.

When Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced Levine Levine’s appointment as the Library’s 18th Poet Laureate, he described him as "one of America’s great narrative poets. His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling ‘The Simple Truth’—about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives."

The New York Times Sunday Book Review referred to his most recent work, News of the World (2010), as "characteristically wise."

Levine taught English for over thirty years at California State University, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He has held teaching positions at many universities including Tufts University, Columbia University, New York University, and Brown University and served for two years as chair of the Literature Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts.

After graduating from Wayne State University, Levine earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, and in 1957 won the Jones Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford. His numerous honors include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial Prize from Poetry, the Frank O’Hara Prize, and two Guggenheim Foundation fellowships.

The poet will share his powerful message with the graduating class of 2012 on May 19, 2012.